When I Missed Out On Being a Part of Something Big
I saw the post on Facebook. The Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) was looking for people, regular old, non-artist people, to contribute illustrations to their new children’s book about foster care. I love children’s books. I love CAFO. I love foster care. And I love being a part of big things that benefit others. I was all about a project like this. I was in.
But then I thought about it a little longer. I’m busy. It’s not really a good time. I’m not gifted for this, it’s not my thing. Why should I try when there are others who could do a much better job? Someone else will do it. I know they need a lot of people to contribute, but it’s not like they need me specifically. The book will get done without me. I talked myself out it. I chose to forget about it, mentally delegate it to someone else, and move on.
This past November, I opened up Facebook to see another post about this book. “Farmer Herman and the Flooding Barn” had been completed and released. I bought copies for, you know, every child I’ve ever met for the same reasons I was excited about the book to begin with. I love children’s books, I love CAFO, I love foster care, and I love being a part of big things that benefit others. But I felt a pang. I could’ve been a part of this. I could’ve been pointing out to my kids “See this one? Mommy did this one!”
Farmer Herman is a story about regular people, 344 of them, accomplishing an impossible task by working together. Long story short (you gotta buy the book for all the juicy details), this Farmer Herman fella had a barn that was flooding and needed to be moved. He comes up with some ridiculous ideas that will make your kids giggle and then arrives at the equally ridiculous one of having 344 of his friends move it. Spoiler alert: it works.
Farmer Herman was written by Jason Weber, adoptive parent of five children from foster care and director of the Foster Movement for CAFO. Jason told me that he believes that “we can do more together than we can separately.” And that’s exactly what his work at CAFO is devoted to: empowering and connecting churches and ministries as they seek to care for orphans.
Jason says that he was considering ways to spread this message of people working together to do good, when he looked around his living room and saw the thousands of children’s books. (He chuckled after saying thousands as if he was exaggerating. I, on the other hand, would not have been exaggerating. Thousands would be the precise number of children’s books I own.)
You want to implant a message into someone’s heart? Repetition will do the trick. You may listen to a sermon or read a book one time, you may skim a blog post a half of one time, but any mom will tell you: children’s books get read again and again and again and…(for infinity). Raise that right hand, mama, if you can recite Goodnight Moon by heart. Ask me to spontaneously recite “I Love You Forever” any time, any place, and I will give you a 15 minute monologue that will bring tears to your eyes.
Children’s books are powerful deliver-ers of messages. Not just for the children, but for the parents who read them to the children.
Jason told me he heard the true story about Farmer Herman’s barn and thought it was a great picture of this “work together” idea and would make a great story for children and parents alike. He wondered how this guy actually accomplished moving the barn (he actually used the phrase “screwed handles onto the barn” in our conversation, but we won’t hold that against him, will we?), so he googled it and wrote the book in a day. The next step was illustrating it. And the rest, as they say, is history. 344 regular, non-artist people (me not included) contributed and made it happen. Farmer Herman and the Flooding Barn was born.
My kids and I just love this book. This is a read again and again and again and…(for infinity) type of book. The illustrations are colorful and cute and simple (see the whole regular old non-artist thing above). The story is sweet and whimsical and memorable. And while the words “foster care” aren’t mentioned once, you’ll easily see the parallel.
One quick look at my “I should get involved in this, but no I can’t, not me” story, and you’ll see the parallel also. Jason admitted to me that he loves a good metaphor. And, you guys, I played right into this metaphor. I became the living, breathing punch line. I thought the idea was a worthy cause, something I wanted to be a part of. I even clicked the button that said “I’m not a good enough artist for this” and read about how feeling like you’re not good enough was the whole point. But still, I let all the reasons why I couldn’t/shouldn’t/didn’t-have-to get in the way of my being involved.
Farmer Herman will teach your children (teach YOU!) about the power of every person’s seemingly insignificant, independently insufficient efforts. And it will envision you for doing your part in this too-huge-task of finding a home for every child.